#Change11 The challenges of technology on education system and the wicked problems

Here is my response to Bonnie’s comments on my previous post.

Thanks Bonnie for your insights. Yes: “we seem both more connected and fractured, to me, at a global society level, than we know how to deal with.”

The more connected people are, the more complex the relationship becomes. The learning that emerged from connective knowledge sharing and collective knowledge from networks challenges the status quo of the prescriptive and canonical knowledge structure once hailed as the only few routes towards the development of knowledge workers and knowledge nation. This seems unforgiving to a knowledge management framework and infra-structure where knowledge is known, and problems could be solved using a linear or systematic process.  Such education system and canonized  knowledge has heavily been exploited and valued as a commodity in a commercialized world of institutions.

The education system that we once cherished has been founded on an economic funding model, based on mass education, cost effectiveness and education efficiency for the particular nation, where a centralized education system is valued and mandated, and accreditation of education would only be granted if the course and curriculum are quality assured.  The current paper on Quality Assurance in Asian Distance Education: Diverse Approaches and Common Culture well illustrates the importance of quality assurance relating to distance education in those countries.

Now these paradoxes surfaced out of the education system posted new questions and challenges relating to (a) the values of traditional testing of knowledge based on rote learning, (b) the adequacy of grouping students, subjects against fixed curriculum, (c) the impact of new technology and social media on the nature and structure of formal education – in particular Higher Education, (d) the authenticity of learning at school with a curriculum based on content knowledge, with subject structure of – language and literacy, numeracy and mathematics, science, and information technology, arts and religion etc. (e) the need for new media literacies and their application in our daily life, or that in study or at work, in response to the changing needs and expectations from all those concerned – including employers, colleagues, customers, educators and peers, (f) the development of metacognitve, critical thinking and sensemaking skills that are often required to solve complicated and complex problems, individually and collectively, with technology as an affordance.

So, what might have led to these paradoxes?  What causes the problems and challenges?

We don’t seem to have the answers to these questions and challenges.  I don’t think we have quite understood the fundamental causes of each of those issues yet, mainly because they are all paradoxically inter-related, where the factors causing the problems are not linearly related, but super-imposed upon each others – the wicked problems.

The wicked problems and social complexity provides some clues – the forces of fragmentation could be the forces that challenge collective intelligence, not only in groups in organisation, but also in networks.  Compare this with the typical problem solving approach as outlined here.

“Fragmentation suggests a condition in which the people involved see themselves as more separate than united, and in which information and knowledge are chaotic and scattered.  The fragmented pieces are, in essence, the perspectives, understandings, and intentions of the collaborators. Fragmentation, for example, is when the stakeholders in a project are all convinced that their version of the problem is correct.  Fragmentation can be hidden, as when stakeholders don’t even realize that there are incompatible tacit assumptions about the problem, and each believes that his or her understandings are complete and shared by all.”

The antidote to fragmentation is shared understanding and commitment. In the case of networked and collective learning, it also requires forms of curation and aggregation – both on the fragmented resources collected and conversation held all over the places, in order to make sense, and to form a more coherent response to the problem statement.  This would then be shared through further conversation, by redefining the problem, analyzing the data, developing alternative options and solutions, followed by implementation of solutions.  The use of wikis and google documents are typical examples to illustrate the crowdsourcing solutions to such problems.

“Social complexity makes wicked problems even more wicked, raising the bar of collaborative success higher than ever.

Because of social complexity, solving a wicked problem is fundamentally a social process.  Having a few brilliant people or the latest project management technology is no longer sufficient.”

I have reflected on the problems and some possible options and solutions relating to the design and implementation of MOOC here and here.

What sort of wicked problems are associated with

(a) connective knowledge and collective learning,

(b) distance education,

(c) online learning?


Wicked Problems http://www.accelinnova.com/docs/wickedproblems.pdf